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City of Scoundrels: The 12 Days of Disaster That Gave Birth to Modern Chicago Paperback – April 16, 2013
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"City of Scoundrels is a lavishly intricate, well-paced account of a great city lashed to the breaking point by a political perfect storm." - James McManus, New York Times Book Review
"History that feels like the most compelling adventure yarn, full of crashing dirigibles, bloody riots and classic crooks. Loved it." - Scott Turow
"A raucous, briskly paced, thoroughly American tale...Reminds us how rich and enthralling reality can be in the hands of a great storyteller..." -- John Wilwol, The Weekly Standard
"Spectacular and vivid...'City of Scoundrels' hits with the force of Lake Michigan's winds." -- Mark Caro, The Washington Post
"Krist serves up a solid, well-informed, and vibrant slice of urban history." -- Publishers Weekly
"Fast-paced...Krist handles these overlapping events with remarkable skill, weaving what in less-talented hands could have been a tangle of incidents and anecdotes into a driving narrative. At its best, "City of Scoundrels" is utterly absorbing." -- Kevin Boyle, The Chicago Tribune
"Gary Krist has crafted a wild and appropriately explosive tale about mayhem, murder, corruption, and paranoia.... This taut, hour-by-hour account of 12 days that forever changed the city will thrill history buffs and fiction fans alike." -- Karen Abbott, bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose
"(An) eager narrative that delivers vivid reading."
"The most compelling adventure yarn, full of crashing dirigibles, bloody riots, and classic crooks. Loved it."
—Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent
"A lavishly intricate, well-paced account of a great city lashed to the breaking point by a political perfect storm."
—New York Times
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
In July 1919, Chicago suffered a devastating 12 days. It began with the crash of the blimp, Wingfoot. The blimp caught fire and crashed in the heart of Chicago killing many innocent citizens. This is followed by the search for a young missing girl who turns up murdered by a predator, a transit strike, and deadly racial riots that result in the burning of many parts of the city. Behind the scenes, the mayor and his political enemy, governor Frank Lowden, were both trying to use these disasters for their own political good. These disasters and their aftermath cause fundamental changes in Chicago and to US history. Thompson, angry over Lowden's meddling in Chicago, will go on to destroy Lowden's chance to be the Republican nominee for president. The aftermath of the racial riots force many Chicagoans to finally confront the growing problems in the Black Belt. Chicago would go on to transform itself but the events of July 1919 would be engrained into the city's psyche.
This book was well written and highly entertaining and the history is well researched. The author includes many personal narratives to tell this story. I would recommend this book to fans of American and Chicago history. Definitely recommend.
Nevertheless, CITY OF SCOUNDRELS is something of a snooze, even for a "Second City" fan like myself. The book chronicles, in detail, the events of a 12-day period in Chicago's history (July 21, 1919 to August 1, 1919) that included an unusual number of "disastrous" events. The events include the unfortunate crash of the blimp Wingfoot Express in the midst of the Loop (13 deaths, 27 injured), the mysterious disappearance/abduction of a 6-year-old schoolgirl, the public suicide of a municipal court judge, the crippling citywide transit strike, and the well-documented Chicago race riots. The events are described, more or less in chronological order, as they were reported in the Chicago daily newspapers, with some supplementation from contemporary diaries.
Unfortunately, it's hard to see how the unrelated events of this 12-day period "gave birth to modern Chicago." What CITY OF SCOUNDRELS is mostly about, is the bitter political conflict between Chicago's mayor, the unethical "Big Bill" Thompson, and Illinois' governor, the aspiring Presidential candidate Frank Lowden. Both men struggled mightily during the 12-day period to get headlines and political credit for settling the Chicago transit strike and for containing the race riots. To me, what was most interesting about the entire Thompson/Lowden rivalry, was that it ultimately led to the Republicans' infamous "smoke-filled room" nomination of Warren G.Read more ›
The subject could be very dry, but the writer's style makes it absolutely riveting. There are crooked politicians, war veterans, common folk caught up in historical happenings...the book is as much a page turner as the best mystery. It is peppered with documents, personal letters, quotes from fanous and not-so-famous people.
I love this sort of book and I love getting a history lesson that reads like the best suspense.
Gotta read it!
And what a read it was. This book covers the political career of one of Chicago's many colorful figures: "Big Bill" Thompson. And it shows that not a lot has changed in the city's political landscape. When I was growing up, the Daley (the Elder) Democratic machine controlled the city. Back in the day it was Thompson's Republican machine. The parties change, but the rules were the same: stay in office, and reward your supporters though graft, coffuption and patronage. And that system has kept Chicago working for a long time.
But in the Summer of 1919 it almost stopped working. The dirigible crash was just the start. It was followed by negotiations to prevent a transit strike that would have paralyzed the city; then a missing girl that prompted a city-wide search; and finally race riots that raged out of control for days. All complicated by a political fight between the Mayor of Chicago and the Governor of Illinois.
You want political thrillers? You can't make up stuff better than this!
This is history, but it reads as well as the best fiction. I haven't read many history books that I can honestly describe as page-turners, but this is definitely one! It held my attention and kept me up late reading.
If you like Chicago history, real-life political drama, or flaming dirigibles, you have to put 'City of Scoundrels' on your reading list.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very informative, yet easy to engage. I enjoy Krist's writing style because not only does he take great care to present historical facts, but he also understands the importance of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Olivia Williams
Gives you an up close and personal view of Chicago's trials and triumphs through the eyes of several characters. I enjoyed this experience of Chicago's history.Published 3 months ago by Drewpad
I am moving to Chicago so I am interested in knowing more about the city and its history. This book looked very interesting to me but in the end I was disappointed. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Wrigley16
Book is in great condition and the story is very interesting and told with historical reference.Published 6 months ago by Michael Hayes
This book was a Christmas present for someone who recently moved to Chicago, and he was thrilled to get it.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Well researched,informative and staggering in detail. Wish this was covered in US History in high school. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Doreen A Villa
Very interesting story about a relatively unknown part of the history of ChicagoPublished 9 months ago by Alan Levy